This is the hexagram of limits, boundaries and junctures: all the ways we have of dividing the world up to make it comprehensible. The ancient character shows a man approaching his food, along with bamboo plants – whose natural ‘articulations’ were used to measure both volume and pitch. The weights and measures that allow people to trade, the contracts that allow them to work together, the language that allows us to develop ideas and relationships – all this is the province of Measuring.
‘Measuring, creating success.
Bitter measures does not allow for constancy.’
Whether the measures or articulations can be something you create for yourself, or part of some large-scale legal agreement, they will always come from personal agreements. The measures that don’t allow for constancy – the ones that can’t last – are not the ones that are misguided, or too extreme: they’re the ones that taste bitter.
This was one of the first hexagrams I got to know through experience, when we were negotiating to buy a house. To cut a long and tortuous story short, various bitter limits didn’t last, the negotiations failed, and I learned that the whole process of setting ground rules and ensuring mutual comprehension is not optional. Receiving this hexagram is a fairly clear sign that these things will not sort themselves out if ignored.
In relationship readings, Hexagram 60 is still about setting ground rules: clarifying expectations, making sure you both mean the same thing by the same words, and simply that you understand one another. And once again, this is not optional: you can’t assume the other person will just know these things if they’re not put into words.
We tend to place more emphasis on removing limits than imposing them – but in the Yijing, these are two sides of a single coin. That is, Articulating completes the work started by Hexagram 59, Dispersing. Dispersing describes free flow that dissolves obstacles, and seeing beyond boundaries into the far distance. In human relations, this is uninhibited communication.
Opening the gateways, dissolving the obstacles, restoring the flow: if Measuring is to be sweet and lasting, all this is essential – but not sufficient. The old divisions and connections were obstructing true communication or understanding, and they are Dispersed; to restore communication, on all levels, there must be a new language, one that will grow organically as bamboo to articulate the true nature of things.
(The Mars Climate Orbiter was lost because European and US engineers were using different units of measurement. Someone failed to Disperse and Measure…)
Hexagrams 59 and 60 share a common nuclear hexagram: 27, Nourishment – or more literally, ‘Jaws’, the structure that supports nourishment. Together, they are like aspects of a circulatory system, with its vessels both free from obstructions, and intelligently directed to meet the organism’s needs.
A larger-scale image for the same process would be the development of irrigation to provide for a growing population – and this is used in the Daxiang (the Image):
‘Above the lake is the stream. Measuring.
The noble one carves out and calculates the measures,
She reflects on power and virtue in action.’
The noble one seems to be developing an irrigation scheme through practical experimentation. The stream flows into the lake and rises from it, both carving it out and revealing its capacity – just as actions feed into character and flow out from it. The rules and limits that decide how you channel your personal power are best decided not through abstract principles, but on the basis of what works.